A few weeks back, I received a mass mailing piece from a Realtor with a plea for buyers who would like to own a home in Belwood.
Sometimes real estate agents doorknock, saying that they “have a buyer”.
Is it likely?
Usually, no. Most often agents who utilize this approach are really just wanting to get a listing. I know, in those cases, it isn’t right. It’s a waste of your time. It’s dishonest.
Sometimes, though, the agent may really have a buyer and is truly going the extra mile.
How can you tell?
Well, I’m a Realtor and I’ll tell you what I do when I have a sincere, serious buyer with a particular need: I hand write the envelope and I hand write the letter. Additionally, I’m specific about why my client might want that particular house (not just any 4 bedroom home in Belwood). When I go to that much trouble, homeowners do take it seriously and I get an extremely high response rate.
But a letter sent to 500 homes? Forget it.
One more thing: if an agent does knock on your door and “has a buyer”, do you really want to enter into a dual agency situation? Do you think that having the same agent represent both buyer and seller is going to be in your best interests?
To get the most money for your home, you need the most qualified exposure. Then you’ll know that all interested or potentially interested parties had a chance.
So if you are thinking of selling your home, call me (or your favorite Realtor) and get the home on the market properly – full exposure. Forget the secret sales.
How is the real estate appreciation in our idyllic part of east Los Gatos, known locally as the Surmont, Belgatos area or Belwood of Los Gatos neighborhoods?
Since turnover is very low, inventory is always restricted and the demand tends to be strong. Recently I did a breakdown of the sales history of the last 5 years here (see the page under “homes info” on Belwood, Belgatos and Surmont sales history info on this site – link at the bottom of the homes info page or use the inserted link, above). Appreciation here is steady.
Here are a few highlights of the last 5 years of data:
(1) The price per square foot of the sold homes have risen a bit more than 71% since 2003. Here is the year by year breakdown:
2003 – $382/sf (6 houses sold)
2004 – $458/sf (18 houses sold)
2005 – $490/sf (25 houses sold)
2006 – $511/sf (9 houses sold)
2007 – $537/sf (10 houses sold)
(2) The average sales price of the closed sales rose approximately 63% since 2005. (It appears that this number is 68% for all of Los Gatos, which of course includes all types of houses, a different school district, homes with larger parcels, etc.)
(3) It appears that homes in this area near Belgatos Park have nearly doubled in value since 1999 (the year we bought our home). That ratio depends, of course, on some updating being done (so the home isn’t effectively “older” than it was in 1999) and can vary depending on the house. But as a rule of thumb, most properties here have almost doubled since 1999. This is true of most of Los Gatos.
This is a great part of Los Gatos for many reasons, finacial ones included!
First, Describing the “Parts” of Belwood
The Belwood area of east Los Gatos is very popular as the homes tend to sit on good-sized lots, the streets are tree-lined and meandering, a huge park provides abundant outdoor activity and exercize space, and the neighborhood is friendly.
There are actually three neighborhoods within what is typically referred to as simply Belwood, though. This matters because it helps to explain the pricing differences from one part of Belwood to the next. So first, a quick into to this part of east Los Gatos. (See photo slideshow of Belwood/Begatos and our park.)
Surmont is the oldest and is on the part closest to downtown Los Gatos along much of Westhill Drive, Old Orchard Drive, Old Orchard Court, Campos Verde, Surmont Drive, and Surmont Court. It cuts off just before Belblossom Drive. These homes are semi-custom and they enjoy tree-lined streets; some of them along Westhill and Surmont even have views. There were several builders who constructed homes here. Homes are mostly on 10,000 to 15,000 SF lots. These houses often sell for the highest prices because they are larger, custom or semi-custom homes on larger lots and sometimes have views.
The next area was not originally part of Belwood proper so is often referred to as “Belgatos area”. It includes part of Westhill, part of Belblossom, and part of Belvue – leading up to Belgatos Road. Mostly 10,000 SF lots and semi-custom homes.
Belwood of Los Gatos originally encompassed (mostly) the streets between Belgatos Road and Harwood Road, with the cabana in the middle on Belwood Gateway. (The cabana used to be ONLY for this area and the annual dues are mandatory there. Now it is open to all three areas but the outlying sections do not, of course, have mandatory membership or dues – it’s optional there.) These are mostly “Bel” streets, except for Bacigalupi Drive and Jaime Court. Of the three areas, Belwood tends to be the most affordable; it is almost exclusively tract housing (though very nice) and the streets are not quite as tree-lined for the most part. Homes here range, generally, from 1700 SF to 2500 SF, with exceptions (Westhill in this stretch has some larger homes, some may be custom built), and usually sell between 1 and 1.4 million, again with some exceptions.
One notable exception: recently a tiny, 1400 SF house in Belwood with need of many repairs sold for a shockingly low price of $799,000.
Again, Belwood has mostly 10,000 SF lots, but one area – a section of Bacigalupi and Jaime Court – are newer homes on mostly 8000 SF lots, and a few places in Belwood have 12,000 SF lots. So it does vary.
What’s for Sale in Belwood, Belgatos, and Surmont of Los Gatos Today
At this time, there are 3 homes actively on the market in this area of about 500 houses. Two of them are on Westhill and one on Belhaven, and all of them are priced at just a little bit under $1.5 million. (Two have been on the market awile – one of them is “by appointment only”, which can make it very difficult to sell a house). One more home will be coming on the market soon: it is a 3 bed, 2 bath home with 1744 SF and will be offered at $1,150,000. (not my listing but I have been in contact with the agent about it so can fill you in on some details if you’re interested).
Why so few available homes? This is not untypical. While most owners of real estate in Silicon Valley may move fairly often, that’s not the case here. People who move to Belwood (or Surmont or Belgatos) tend to make it their long-term home. They move in but don’t want to leave! Turnover tends to be low.
Need more information on the available homes? Or what has sold in recent years? Please visit the “Homes Info” area of this website. There you’ll see descriptions of each home for sale, plus those recently sold and also some historical information on the second page of that section.
Call or email me if you’d like to discuss buying or selling a home here in Belwood, Belgatos or Surmont. I offer a no-cost one hour consultation to prospective clients.
mary (at) popehandy.com
If you live in Belwood or the Belgatos or Surmont areas of east Los Gatos, you probably have at least a general idea of neighborhood values. Homes here generally sell between 1 and 2 million.
Apparently, not always.
On November 8th, the little fixer at 301 Belblossom Drive, Los Gatos 95032 closed escrow at $757,000.
True, it needed lots of work and could only offer 1430 square feet.
But was it really all that bad?
I don’t think so.
So what went wrong?
The timing was tough – the money supply was tightened up considerably in August and September and that set a difficult tone for the fall.
Right now, the homes that are selling usually are completely fixed up, priced aggressively, marketed well, and are in the best school districts. Eliminate one or more of these and you have problems selling.
This particular sale was a trustee situation, where family members were selling after the death of a parent or relative. In those cases, often the sellers really don’t want to or cannot do improvements. So the homes are sold in less than ideal condition. For buyers with imagination, it’s a great opportunity!
Luckily, this is only one home in the neighborhood, the size is different enough that it will not impact most home sales in the area over the next six months. But for smaller homes in east Los Gatos that are within a mile or so of Beglatos Road and Belblossom, it will create a sting for the next half year. Knowing the circumstances will help any appraisal issues if there’s a sale.
And in time, this too shall pass.
It’s mid-October and inventory is shrinking a bit. A week ago there was one home to buy and one to rent in Belwood – and none in the Surmont or Belgatos areas of the ‘hood. The available ones have been scooped up.
So right now, if someone wants to live in our pretty corner of east Los Gatos, they’ll just have to wait.
Many sellers are hoping that spring will bring better sales prices. If it does, that’s great for people either downsizing or leaving the area.
But for move-up buyers, now might be a better time to sell one home and buy a more expensive one.
Why? Prices are a bit soft now. The listing on Belblossom at $799,000 makes it clear that prices aren’t what they used to be. Buying up, the soft prices make the jump from one home to the other easier – even if you sell the current home for less. The reason is because you save more on the move-up home than you lose on the sale of the current home. The net puts you ahead of waiting ’til it’s a hot market all around.
Call me if you’d like to get a current sense of value for your home.
Intero does have a special “Holiday Marketing Program” that involves no sign, no open houses etc. during the slower days of December. You get far less traffic but it’s all by appointment so only serious buyers come through. It’s a great way to get the jump on the January market. Please call me on my cell at 408 204-7673 to learn more about it.
The Belwood of Los Gatos house on Belblossom Drive was not overpriced in the 9’s, but it hasn’t sold and the price has just dropped like a rock to $799,000. I wish I could buy it myself at that price!
Is this a hint of what is to come?
It might be.
The east side of the Santa Clara Valley and the south county areas have been suffering with a very difficult real estate market these last few months.
Maybe it’s spreading to the west valley communities now too.
For a long time we had a “bifurcated market”. The westside was still hot-hot-hot. Homes in Sunnyvale and Palo Alto were flying off the market. Multiple offers. As is sales. All of that – continuing despite the travails on the poorer side of the San Jose market.
But now it looks like we’re seeing the market stalling out. By early next week we should have the real estate statistics for September, but from my cursory look at homes online and in the MLS in Los Gatos and Saratoga, I see a very noticeable slowdown in sales activity.
In the case of one of my buyer clients, I got an email that he and his wife are going to wait. “The interest rate is .75% higher than I was budgeting”, he lamented.
In a buyer’s market, buyers don’t buy. They wait. They wait for interest rates to improve (by the way, that often happens in the dead of winter) and/or for prices to improve.
I think what is happening now – hindsight is always 20/20 but figuring out the current market is trickier – is that we are caught in a changing tide. I believe that our “neutral” or balanced market is now falling into a stronger buyer’s market.
If that is the case, prepare for more drastic price cuts in Los Gatos and Saratoga and all of Silicon Valley to get homes sold.
That’s what the buyers are waiting for.
What happens when a tree branch goes over the fence and into the neighbor’s yard? This is a question investigated recently here in Los Gatos and I posted about it in my Live in Los Gatos blog. The answers may surprise you!